EU-Turkey cooperation on refugee deal will continue, says EU commissioner

EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday said hosting over three million refugees was a huge challenge for Turkey, adding that EU-Turkey cooperation on refugee issues should continue.

"I would like to commend Turkey for hosting more than 3,6 million refugees fulfilling its humanitarian endeavour. I know this is a huge challenge for your country,” Avramopoulos said during the 11th Ambassadors’ Conference in capital Ankara, organised annually by Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2008.

“I can assure you that the European Union stands by Turkey to manage it and will continue to do so," he said referring to Turkey’s efforts for hosting refugees.

Avramopoulos said that the EU and Turkey are inevitably bonded by geography, history, culture and mutual interests.

"It is important that Turkey remains on a stable path towards Europe," the EU commissioner said.

Turkey and EU in 2016 agreed on a deal that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. According to the deal, the EU promised the allocation of €3 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants. The deal also included the end of visa restrictions applied to Turkish citizens when travelling to Europe as of June 2016, but the visa restrictions still remain.

Avramopoulos, a Greek politician, said he always strived to create conditions for mutual understanding and trust between Turkey and Greece, adding that the newly elected Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had the power for rapprochement.